Corn-Barley Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette from Food52

Can we talk about the moment that cherry tomatoes are having?  Be prepared to see a few more tomato recipes before the summer is through. Because, sweet jesus (or super sweet 100, if you prefer), this has been a banner year for tomatoes in California, particularly for those of the minuscule kind. What about for you? Are your cherry tomatoes to die for?

What is not always to die for in California is the corn. Being a Midwesterner by upbringing, I have certain standards when it comes to corn, and California corn does not always live up to these sweet-but-not-starchy, full-of-creamy-goodness expectations. 

However, if you can buy the corn in the morning, shuck it in the afternoon, and have it grilled by evening, usually you can do alright, no matter what part of the country you find yourself in.

This salad is one in a long line of recent salads I have been making (prepare to see more), in part because I have been bringing lunch to work. And I need to ensure that I resist the siren sound of cheese-flavored snacks (read Cheetos and Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles) that can be found in the admissions office. 

I don't know what it is. I have a humiliating weakness for cheese dust. 

So I have been counteracting it with corn and tomatoes and basil and barley. Or at least this go-round that's what I have been distracting myself with. 

The beans in this salad are pretty nondescript, but I see why they are included. They add a smidge of protein and they bulk up this otherwise starchy salad. 

Other bonuses include (1) doing a quick parboil of the corn with the barley to ensure that the barley has maximum corn infusion; (2) grilling said corn, a step that may feel extraneous, but it makes the salad quite smoky; (3) grating a super ripe tomato to make the dressing cry of summer; (4) topping the salad with basil and chives, thus essentially pushing this salad into the realm of impossibly good. 

But for all the focus on the corn and barley, the title of this salad really is a misnomer. This salad is about the tomatoes. Plain and simple.

So if you can resist eating that entire pint of cherry tomatoes on the way home (and if you cannot, buy two pints), I recommend this summery salad for an August repast. And if you're lucky enough to have leftovers, it's just as good on day two and three as it was on day one.  

Guess you better double the recipe. These tomatoes won't last forever.


Corn-Barley Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

Adapted from Mighty Salads and recipe here 

Serves 4

½ cup dried pearl barley 
3 ears of corn (shucked) 
Olive oil for grilling
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes 
1 cup cooked cannellini, butter bean, or other white beans 
1 tomato, halved 
1½ teaspoons white wine vinegar 
1 large garlic clove 
¼ cup basil cut into ribbons 
1 bunch of chives, thinly sliced 
¼ - ½ cup olive oil

1. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Bring a large stockpot of generously salted water to a boil. 

2.  Add the barley to the pot and cook it according to the package directions: Usually in about 1½ cups of water, a generous pinch of salt, and 25 minutes. (See here.)  During the last 5 or 6 minutes of cooking, add the corn. Remove the corn with tongs. Drain the barley (if necessary) and set aside. 

3.  Brush the corn with olive oil and grill until charred on all sides, about 8 minutes. 

4.  Cut the kernels from the corncobs. As you cut the kernels, collect all of the corn milk that drips into a bowl, then use the back of the knife to scrape the remaining corn milk from the cleaned cob. 

5.  Grate the large tomato on the large holes of a box grater over a wide bowl, collecting the juice and pulp. Discard the tomato skins. 

6.  Place the garlic on a cutting board, sprinkle with a couple of generous pinches of salt, and finely chop and smash it into a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Add the garlic paste to the tomato pulp, as well as a pinch of salt, the red pepper flakes, vinegar, and reserved corn milk. Gradually whisk in enough of the olive oil (¼ - ½ cups) until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

7.   In a serving bowl, combine the barley, corn, cherry tomatoes, beans, basil, and chives. Add the vinaigrette and toss to evenly coat. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve.


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